I am one of those people who're hopelessly in love with Christmas. Don't ask me why? There is no specific reason why Christmas warms my heart more than any Indian festival, it just does. The irony is that inspite of having gone to a Catholic school for 15 years of my life, I wasn't so crazy about Christmas then as I became after school. It's probably the memories of celebrating Christmas during my college years in the US that made the festival so endearing.
This is what our Christmas celebrations in college used to be like : The city would start getting decorated mid-November, as people started their holiday shopping. Malls, airports, streets, restaurants, hotels all would have giant Christmas trees and be decked up with lights. Every store you walked in would have Christmas carols playing in the background & Santa smiling indulgently at you. We used to play Secret Santa every Christmas, where all of us friends would write out names on small chits of paper, put them all into a box & everyone would draw one name each. The deal was that you had to get a gift within $5 for the person whose name you drew, without the person knowing it's you who's getting them a gift! The day before college shut down for Christmas, we would all meet in one of our rooms & would one by one give gifts to the person whose name we pulled out. The next day we would all be headed 'home', wherever that was (My Christmas used to be spent either in Chicago or New York, where I had family). The fun part of this game wasn't only the exchange of gifts but also those 10 days leading upto it when each person had to keep a secret & figure out something that the other person would like & appreciate.
Now, my Christmas celebrations start mid-December & last till the end of January. I decorate my home & my work station with Christmas stuff. Like every year, this year too I got this GORGEOUS Christmas tree that already has some beautiful decorations on it, and with a little bit more it will truly light up my living room. I also got a beautiful wreath for my door & a Santa to put beside the tree!
My mother, who loves Christmas almost as much as I do & is a great sport in life, will be with me this Christmas, and the two of us have drawn up some great plans to celebrate the day, which include an English Christmas lunch followed by a movie (preferably a Christmas movie - my all-time favorite is 'Love Actually'). In the evening we're calling a couple of my friends over for plum pudding & hot apple cider.
I look forward to Christmas every year but this year I'm particularly eager for it to come around. I was thinking why and you know what I came up with? We're living in times of such fear, insecurity, despair & hatred. Most of us are scared to go to a mall, movie theater or other crowded public places. Our society is becoming more & more fragmented by the day. There is so much hatred towards people belonging to other religions, so much regionalism, so much distrust towards one another. Everything, including life itself, seems so transient, and I have a bad feeling that things will only get worse with each passing year - at least for a few years UNTIL we take care of the menace of terrorism (globally) and divisionary politics (within India) once & for all.
Come to think of it, this is such a sad way to live life. Living in fear is no way to live. It is simply counting down to death because our aim then is to make it through each day.
I refuse to live in fear. I want to live believing there is still a lot goodness in this world, that is much stronger than evil. I want to believe there is still a lot of love within all of us that is much deeper than the hatred in the entire world put together. I want to believe. This Christmas I'm going to say a prayer for peace, for hope, for faith and for humanity.